DAILY CATHOLIC    THURSDAY     May 7, 1998     vol. 9, no. 89

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          HAVANA (CWNews.com) - In one of the most critical statements ever issued by a Cuban Church official against the Communist government, Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino of Havana said this week that the US embargo against Cuba is not the only economic problem of the island, but that there are also other problems that must be addressed by the government.

          In an interview with Palabra Nueva, the official magazine of the Archdiocese, Cardinal Ortega said the economic crisis in Communist Cuba is not the fault of the US embargo alone, but it is caused by "our own faults in the economic field and the mistakes of the Cuban economic system itself." Cardinal Ortega recalled that, during his visit, Pope John Paul II "not only called the world to be open to Cuba but Cuba to be open to the world" and said that it was "a call to overcome our own faults and limitations that, along with other reasons, have brought us the current state of the national economy."

          The cardinal named among the reasons for Cuba's economic problems "the crisis of the socialist countries and especially of Russia, a nation that used to help the Cuban government." He said that if the Holy Father did not speak about these other economic problems during his visit and concentrated on condemning the embargo, "it doesn't mean that the Catholic Church ignores these other problems." Speaking on the dialogue between the Church and the Communist Cuban government, Cardinal Ortega said that the Church "is hardly seeking new spaces to work. We don't want any kind of power, we only want to evangelize, we are trying to increase our capacity for service."

          Cardinal Ortega, the president of the Cuban bishops' conference, said the Catholic Church is currently working on putting into effect the main ideas of the Holy Father's message to the island. As an example, he revealed that his archdiocese is preparing a guide for Cuban priests to be used in the Sunday homilies "with specific ideas from the large themes the Pope spoke about in Cuba." He added, "It is not enough to re-read his words, we need to understand why he said them, what he meant, and how we make them concrete."

May 7, 1998       volume 9, no. 89


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